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System for the recognition of professional qualifications



Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications


  • It sets up a system for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the European Union (EU), which also extends, with certain adaptations, to the other European Economic Area / European Free Trade Association (EEA/EFTA) countries and to Switzerland.
  • It aims to provide access to labour markets for professionals in other EU Member States, further facilitate cross-border service provision and simplify administrative procedures.
  • It introduced a mutual evaluation of national professional regulations and a transparency exercise (i.e. screening the entry restrictions to professions and assessing whether they are necessary).
  • It also contains ongoing transparency obligations requiring all Member States to report on the professions they regulate, and to communicate to the European Commission the reasons for considering that existing or new requirements comply with the principles of non-discrimination and proportionality.
  • It applies to all nationals of EU and EEA/EFTA countries and Switzerland wishing to pursue a regulated profession, either on a self-employed or on an employed basis, in a country other than that where they obtained their professional qualifications.
  • The Commission has published an interactive map of the regulated professions in the EU. These are professions to which access, or the right to practice, depends on having specific qualifications. They also include professions for which the use of a specific title is protected, such as chartered and certified accountants in Ireland.
  • It does not apply to professions covered by specific directives such as Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory auditors. In the case of lawyers, while their qualifications are covered by Directive 2005/36/EC, they also benefit from two specific directives (77/249/EEC and 98/5/EC) which introduce additional ways for them to provide cross-border services, either temporarily or by establishing themselves permanently in other Member States.


Temporary mobility

  • Professionals may provide their services in another Member State on a temporary and occasional basis from their place of establishment in their home country.
  • The destination country may ask for a prior declaration, but they do not have to go through the recognition procedures.
  • This does not apply to professions that have public health and safety implications, for which Member States may require prior recognition of their qualification under Article 7(4) of the directive.

Permanent establishment

The directive provides for three qualification recognition systems:

  • 1.

    automatic recognition for professions whose minimum training conditions are harmonised to a certain extent at EU level: doctors, nurses responsible for general care, dentists, veterinary surgeons, midwives, pharmacists and architects;

  • 2.

    automatic recognition for certain occupations based on their professional experience: professionals in crafts, trades and industry;

  • 3.

    the general system for the abovementioned professions which are not covered by the automatic recognition system is based on the principle of mutual recognition of qualifications.

The general system also applies to the other regulated professions where access is granted to any individual who can demonstrate that he or she is fully qualified in their home country.

However, if the authorities of the host country find significant differences between the training acquired in the individual’s home country and that required for the same activity in their country, they can offer the individual the choice of an adaptation period or an aptitude test. The professional experience of the applicant has to be taken into account when considering the imposition and extent of such compensation measures.

Partial access

  • The directive introduced the principle of partial access to a profession where the activities covered by a regulated profession differ from one country to another.
  • This can be useful for professionals working in a genuine sector of the economy that does not exist as a profession in its own right in the Member State to which they wish to move.

Language checks

  • The directive only allows host countries to carry out systematic language checks for professions that have implications on patient safety.
  • Language checks should take place only after the host country has recognised the qualification, should be limited to the knowledge of one official or administrative language of the host country and should be proportionate to the profession to be pursued.

European professional card

  • The directive, as amended by Directive 2013/55/EU, provides for the possibility of creating a European professional card (EPC) for selected professions. This allows professionals to have their qualifications recognised more simply and rapidly through a standardised electronic procedure. The card is based on the use of the internal market information system and is issued in the form of an electronic certificate.
  • The EPC has already been implemented in the first wave for nurses responsible for general care, physiotherapists, pharmacists, mountain guides and real-estate agents.

Access to online information and procedures

  • Member States must make all information on recognition of qualifications for all regulated professions available through points of single contact.
  • Professionals should be able to complete the procedures and formalities covered by the directive online through the point of single contact or the relevant authorities in charge of the profession.
  • Assistance centres in each Member State must provide advice and assistance to individual cases.

Implementing and delegated acts

In 2015, the Commission adopted Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/983, which sets out the procedure for:

  • issuing the EPC; and
  • applying an alert mechanism introduced by Directive 2005/36/EC that ensures that EU patients and consumers are adequately protected from professionals who have been prohibited or restricted from practising the profession in one country or have used falsified diplomas in their application for the recognition of their qualification.

In 2020, the Commission adopted Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1190 correcting Regulation (EU) 2015/983 and clarifying that the relevant authority of the home Member State shall decide whether to extend temporary EPCs issued after the prior check of qualifications under Article 7(4) of the directive.

The Commission has also adopted delegated decisions amending Annex V to Directive 2005/36/EC and updating the list of the evidence of automatically recognised formal qualifications and training courses.

Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/907 establishing a common training test for ski instructors created an additional voluntary scheme of automatic recognition for ski instructors across the EU in 2019. Ski instructors not covered by the common training test still benefit from the general system for mutual recognition of qualifications set out in the directive.

COVID-19 pandemic

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and after introducing measures to cope with the impact of the crisis, the Commission adopted a communication containing guidelines on EU emergency assistance on cross-border cooperation in healthcare related to the COVID-19 crisis.


  • Directive 2005/36/EC had to be transposed into national law by 20 October 2007.
  • Amending Directive 2013/55/EU had to be transposed into national law by 18 January 2016.


As the population of working age falls in many Member States, demand for highly qualified people is likely to increase, so their qualifications should be recognised throughout the EU in a fast, simple and reliable way.

For further information, see:


Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications (OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, pp. 22–142).

Successive amendments to Directive 2005/36/EC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/983 of 24 June 2015 on the procedure for issuance of the European Professional Card and the application of the alert mechanism pursuant to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 159, 25.6.2015, pp. 27–42).

See consolidated version.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1190 of 11 August 2020 correcting Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/983 on the procedure for issuance of the European Professional Card and the application of the alert mechanism pursuant to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 262, 12.8.2020, pp. 4–5).

Communication from the Commission – Guidelines on EU Emergency Assistance on Cross-Border Cooperation in Healthcare related to the COVID-19 crisis (OJ C 111 I, 3.4.2020, pp. 1–5).

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/907 of 14 March 2019 establishing a Common Training Test for ski instructors under Article 49b of Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the recognition of the professional qualifications (OJ L 145, 4.6.2019, pp. 7–18).

See consolidated version.

Commission Decision 2007/172/EC of 19 March 2007 setting up the group of coordinators for the recognition of professional qualifications (OJ L 79 of 20.3.2007, pp. 38–39).

Directive 98/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 to facilitate practice of the profession of lawyer on a permanent basis in a Member State other than that in which the qualification was obtained (OJ L 77, 14.3.1998, pp. 36–43).

See consolidated version.

Council Directive 77/249/EEC of 22 March 1977 to facilitate the effective exercise by lawyers of freedom to provide services (OJ L 78, 26.3.1977, pp. 17–18).

See consolidated version.

last update 10.08.2022